How does "the community" decide things?

“safecoins will always be farmed. Initially the cap is 4.3Billion, it is not likely to increase, but that is not impossible in ten years or so. The community will decide to perhaps increase supply by the population growth or similar (1.5-2%).”

  • David Irvine

Source: Safecoin, why it’s safe and what it means for us all | Metaquestions

How does the community decide this exactly? When does someone count as a community member, and how is determined how much his or her opinion should weigh? What happens if a part of the community wants to remove the cap (those with little or no SafeCoins) and another part does not (those with a lot of SafeCoins who don’t want inflation)? How is it decided what the “right” version of the MaidSafe protocol is?

The answer to this may significantly threaten SafeCoin’s status as a store of value in my opinion, in which case it’s not better than fiat currency in this regard. If the rules can be changed by those with little or no stake in the current system at the cost of those who have been around for years and do have a lot of stake in SafeCoin, SafeCoin has a real problem in my view.


I presume that if people don’t agree with changes made to the service, then they won’t adopt that version, in the same way Bitcoin needs a majority agreement in adoption. Voting by involvement in the upgrade.

In Bitcoin that works because the longest chain is by design considered the valid one. I’m not aware that such a similar mechanism exists in SAFE. What if a part of the community adopts a new version and starts awarding SafeCoin above the 2^32 cap to farmers, while another part does not want or accept this?

My rough understanding is that every node belongs to a group, and that the group monitors and validates actions done by each node with majority voting. If the community is roughly equally divided on a change in protocol some groups will validate actions done under the new rules while others will not. Is the “solution” here that the additional SafeCoins simply wouldn’t be accepted by some groups, thereby decreasing the value of those additional SafeCoins since they are kind of second-class SafeCoins, not accepted by everyone as valid SafeCoins?

In that case quantity of connected nodes determines voting rights, which would empower botnet owners significantly. Also, might it be possible to run tons of virtual machines on one system to pretend you’re multiple nodes? Or is that filtered by IP address?

Edit: I’m presuming here that a SafeCoin is a unique 32 bit integer, in which case “new” SafeCoins of more than 32 bits can be distinguished from the “old” 32 bit SafeCoins, and thus rejected.

This is the way, initially we may use some magic numbers to enforce early rules till the network settles). The 1.5-2% is the figure regarded as close to population increase and more. The network will essentially calculate costs of resources to recycle coins for farmers to re farm. The supply / demand will enable this % recycle, which may be more or less what we initially think. Key is the network will decide based on resource availability. We do not want people involved unless absolutely necessary. The algorithms will have to be agreed though, well in my opinion. I think we can easily check and agree on the algorithm for fair distribution of resources, we can check if its right as well. If we get it wrong farmers will leave or not join.


Thanks for the reply!

Are we talking here about the farming reward in SafeCoin or about the hard-cap? My question concerned the hard-cap and under what conditions could it be changed in the future. I don’t think my question is really answered.

I understand there will be an algorithm to determine how much SafeCoin a farmer gets for his services, this can be programmed in. In Bitcoin the issuance is determined by automatic re-targeting of the difficulty to try to keep the block mining time around 10 minutes. In addition to that, every so many years the reward for mining a block is halved, and in +100 years or so, there won’t be a reward anymore, which makes Bitcoin a store of value because there will be 0% inflation. To change that algorithm, the new algorithm would need to be supported by more than 50% of all mining computing power combined, since only a majority in computing power can keep their version of the blockchain the longest.

So, the MaidSafe team will settle on a farmer reward algorithm initially, that’s natural. So did Satoshi when he released Bitcoin. My question is about what would be required to change that algorithm say 10 years from now, because it greatly influences the trustworthiness of SafeCoin as a store of value.

If MaidSafe or any other party changes the algorithm and removes the hard-cap and then releases that version of the MaidSafe software to the public, when does that new algorithm count as the official algorithm for the network? If a part of the network starts using the new version, and another part does not, there is a conflict in the network. Who wins and why? In general, what happens? At what percentage of adoption of the new algorithm does it take effect? I’m interested in the consensus rules and the way MaidSafe looks at updates to the software that violate rules of earlier versions.

No worries, there is a hard cap of 2^32, but recycling is really reprinting (or removing the hard cap)if you look at it that way. The exception is the network charges all users of certain parts for wom work. Each safecoin is divisible as well.

The could be no safecoin2 from a fork, it would be a new currency all together. The address space for safecoin is fixed in place by the consensus mechanisms.

That sounds reassuring, but then I guess I have no clue what you mean by recycling. Recycle from where? Can SafeCoins “disappear” into the network or something like that and then be recreated and reissued?

is there any documentation on those consensus mechanisms? I’m an embedded systems programmer, so it’s okay if it’s technical. I’m intrigued by this project and want to understand it better. Once I’m 100% convinced the theory is sound, I want to dive in the code and learn the API and maybe help find bugs.

They are effectively destroyed freeing up the space in the network to create a new one. Farmers and builders can then farm a coin for that space.

There is a ton on the closeness approach (routing and vault code). The consensus is quite easy after that. A close group have authority based on network distance from an action on a data element. So a DM can ask a PMID group to store data and the PMID group confirms the DM is close to the data name. The PMID group then ask a pmid node to store and he can tell these are the closest to him and confirm with the DM that this is a valid request (chain of 2). So the consensus is agreed via deterministic addresses of those actions.

This is the simplified version, but you will see what I mean. It’s the combination of known network closeness, consensus of the 4 nodes close to an element, then deterministically identifying the next group in the action (or transaction) that must perform the next part. This is chained into network wide transactions. The final part of the chain must clarify with at least 2 of these groups in the chain the transaction is valid. They also confirm this with the final group. The final group then forms its own chain, so a store for instance will have the data stored near the HASH of the data, and then the HASH of that HASH and thirdly the HASH(HASH(HASH(data))). The last group are chained in address space and can report lost or invalid data to managers of nodes in contention or who have lost or hold bad data.

To confirm data requests are made to the three locations, this is done inter-location as well in integrity checks.


When are they destroyed? I understand P.O.R. is destroyed when data that was previously stored on the network is removed, but I can’t imagine how it could be related to that. If a farmer earns a SafeCoin and then sends that SafeCoin to Bob, Bob’s SafeCoin can’t just be destroyed if the farmer turns off or empties his vault?

Edit: Are we simply talking here about people paying formers in SafeCoin to use their space? If so, using terms like recycling for such a trade are really confusing.

I’ll read up more on closeness, thanks for the explanation.

On payment for network resources they are recycled. The huge point is safecoin is not pegged to resource value only the cost of a resource at any point in time. Data stays forever.

If you imagine money backed by gold, an intrinsic and useless thing when stored in vaults. In our case that gold is data, all humanities data, so the backing of issuance is against storing and protecting all data, forever. So different from Gold where you would ask for is and it’s gone with data you get a copy of it at any time, but it’s still all there and growing. So a safecoin != X grams of data but the issuance of it is dependent on famers maintaining it. We pay farmers by recycling safecoin as we go along.

Initially safecoin is worth a tiny amount and farmers farm a lot of it, as it goes up in value the farming slows down. Eventually farmers will only farm recylced coins, its up to the core network to charge for some aspects of use to ensure this is always the case. As safecoin gets easier to purchase then the network can make use of gateways and charges for more people to use network computations etc. If we ever had to charge for all access then as long as its easy to get and is definitely at the lowest cost possible we will be fine. So early fast adoption is critical and removing barriers is a huge deal. IT may be we alter as time goes by, but the community will decide on algorithmic approaches and as long as farmers are happy then the network continues to self fuel.

It’s a bit of a mind melt but basically we are backed by protection and issuance of data and then the balance of farming and building profitability. Measuring supply and demand as the network can will make sure this balance remains in a state of equilibrium.

I wish somebody could write this up better than I can. I keep repeating is in many ways and I know I am rubbish at fast responses like this. I might try another blog post to map out the math a little bit more, but economics is like politics and religion, nobody has all the answers and there will always be debate. If we search for balance then we will have done a great thing in this issuance model. The rest is for other people to debate I think. Economics is a very complex area (generally the best speaker is right :smile:) and the more we get algorithmically correct the better, this is a good start I think.

In terms of farmers and safecoin, when farmed they get transferred to a user, so they are safe. Only recycling can destroy them really (well barring loss etc.). So a farmer who switches off merely stops earning, but is not penalised for past earnings. He may find it harder to get back up to a decent rate of earning if he loses chunks, but that’s fair I think.


Aha, so a user storing something on the network isn’t paying the farmer directly, but the SafeCoins get destroyed and can then be farmed again. A user pays the network, not the particular farmer(s) who store his or her data. That was the point I missed, thanks a lot!

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No worries, its a nice way to amortise the cost and make sure its not a ebay type buying system to get resources.